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Southern France: 5 beautiful places to visit – from the Gorges du Verdon to Nice

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The South of France is beautiful, and a perfect travel destination for those who want a big city, beach, charming coastal towns and idyllic valleys.
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Southern France: 5 beautiful places to visit – from the Gorges du Verdon to Nice is written by Jesper Munk Hansen.

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Course towards the South of France

The trip to the South of France wasn't really something I went with the idea of ​​having to make it happen.

My relationship with France has always been very neutral, but when I won a travel prize in one photo contest by RejsRejsRejs, which would bring me to this area, I naturally said yes – and thankfully so.

The South of France's beautiful coastal towns and idyllic natural areas blew me away, and I had no doubt that these experiences should be shared.

The five nights at the Hôtel le Méditerranée in the town of Hyères were thoroughly enjoyed, as were all the excursions we went on during those days.

Therefore, I have compiled a small list of 5 areas that you should also experience when you visit the South of France.

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Nice: Sun, beach and old quarters

The journey began in France's fifth largest city, Nice, where we landed with the plane.

The hotel was about 150 km from the city, so we chose to experience some of the wonderful sights that Nice has to offer before jumping in the car and driving on.

We had booked a 'Free Walking Tour', which is a guided tour where you choose what you want to pay the guide after the tour is over.

It works really well, and we've been on these kinds of trips in boats before Bologna og Prague. Fortunately, I have yet to experience people leaving without paying. Typically you pay 10-20 euros, but it's entirely up to you. That way, most people can join, regardless of whether you travel on a budget or not.

Nice is located on the French Riviera, and the city has an absolutely fantastic view the Mediterranean . It is no wonder that it is one of the most popular destinations and one of the most visited areas in France.

On the walking tour we passed several of the most popular attractions in Nice including the famous Promenade des Anglais beach, whose white sandy beaches and blue sea lure many bathers out for a relaxing day in the sun.

If you move further into the city, you will find the old town, Vieux Nice, which is full of colorful buildings and narrow streets.

The area is charming and full of historic buildings such as cathedrals, beautiful squares and a cozy market.

Nice really pleasantly surprised me and it's definitely worth a visit when you go to the South of France. Many fly to and from Nice anyway, which makes it even more obvious to spend some time exploring the area.

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Hyères – An idyllic coastal town in the South of France

After we had been in Nice, we continued a little further south.

The hotel we were to stay at was located in the small French coastal town of Hyères, which lies between Saint-Tropez and Marseille. The town felt calmer and less overrun with visitors. I had never heard of Hyeres before my own visit, which I may not be the only one.

Hyères has many beautiful beaches and a good location with easy access to most attractions in the immediate area. The city is close to a number of islands, which you will find south of the area an hour and a half's drive from Nice, an hour's drive from Saint-Tropez and two hours' drive from the Gorges du Verdon, one of Europe's largest gorges.

As you can probably sense, there is a lot to experience in the South of France, and here Hyères, with its location, is an obvious base.

The Hotel le Méditerranée that we stayed at was a great experience.

We got a room with our own terrace and even had a view of the horse racing track. This small hotel has only 14 rooms, which made the visit even more cozy and personal.

The hotel was only a few minutes' walk from the beach and the marina, which was full of restaurants and cafes. Here they had managed to create a small cozy holiday environment with a relaxed atmosphere, where everything is gathered within a short distance.

In addition, the service at the hotel was top notch and the receptionists were very helpful when questions arose.

It made it even easier that the hotel is Swedish-owned, so they could both understand and speak Danish - even though we were in the south of France.

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Gorges du Vernon - South of France - France - Travel

Verdon Gorge – Europe's Grand Canyon

As mentioned, the Gorge du Verdon is an hour's drive from Hyères, and it is one of Europe's largest gorges. It is not without reason that someone has gone so far as to call it "Europe's Grand Canyon", and when you are faced with this spectacular sight, you understand why.

Surrounded by steep gorges, the emerald green river winds its way through the bottom of the 800 meter deep gorge, creating a dramatic landscape. I've never been in Grand Canyon, so I can neither confirm nor deny the similarities, but I was impressed anyway.

By the river there are opportunities to do a lot of activities, and that was exactly one of the things we had planned. Here you can challenge yourself with a trip in kayak, canoe and other sailing sports, but we had chosen to try river rafting for the first time ever.

A route of 14 km through the river with 6 people and a guide. It was a really fun experience - even if we had to go into the 12 degree cold water several times.

After river-rafting in the Gorges du Verdon, we chose to drive from the top of the river down towards the nearby man-made lake, Lake of Sainte-Croix. But we didn't get far on the small roads in the mountains before the sky opened up.

In the space of 5 minutes we went from bright sunshine and 24 degrees to rain, lightning, thunder and 13 degrees. It's not the most fun to be in the mountains when it's lightning, but we were in a car and we tried our best to drive on the wet surface of the mountain roads.

Unfortunately, this meant that we didn't see much of the lake when we finally arrived.

Visibility had become poor due to the heavy rain, and it was difficult to see very far beyond the otherwise beautiful lake. But unpredictable weather conditions must be taken into account if you visit the South of France in late spring.

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Porquerolles - South of France - France - Travel

Porquerolles: A little paradise in the South of France

Off the coast of Hyères are a number of small, idyllic islands.

The islands are known as Porquerolles, Port-Cros and Île du Levant, and together they form the Îles d'Hyères archipelago.

We wanted to experience these beautiful surroundings and therefore chose to take a ferry to Porquerolles. This little boat trip took just 20 minutes.

Porquerolles is the largest of the islands and is an ideal place for people who want to enjoy a quiet atmosphere away from the tourist destinations. The island itself is only seven kilometers long and three kilometers wide and has a total of 200 residents.

Despite its modest size, Porquerolles is particularly known for its rich animal and plant life. There are actually so many different plants and flowers on the island that biologists have had difficulty getting a comprehensive overview of the species - it would simply take too long to list them all.

And there is plenty of nature. The white sandy beaches and the beautiful blue sea must be enjoyed if you visit the island.

The main town on the island is also called Porquerolles and is a small town with narrow streets and colorful houses. Here you will find both restaurants, cafes and shops, so as you can probably sense, you can easily spend many hours walking on this quiet island in the South of France.

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Saint-Tropez and Port Grimaud: The French Riviera

Saint-Tropez is perhaps one of the most famous cities on the French Riviera with its luxurious lifestyle and large boats in the harbour. A mini version of Monaco, I think.

It attracts both tourists and celebrities, and you have to remember to have enough money with you if you want to stay there, because a light meal consisting of 1 coke, 1 beer and 2 hot dogs cost us DKK 394. Fortunately, we were only there on a day trip .

It was not a place I felt comfortable. The luxurious and expensive lifestyle does not suit a West Jutland like me. But then you can say that you have visited Saint-Tropez.

Over on the other side of the water you will find the lesser-known town of Port Grimaud. It is a 25-minute boat trip. In fact, both Saint-Tropez and Port Grimaud are on the mainland, so you can easily drive there. But it is easier to sail between the two cities.

Port Grimaud is a charming and smaller town which is called Little Venice due to its canal-like structure and architecture reminiscent of the Italian city.

Cars are prohibited in the center of Port Grimaud and the central canal serves as the main street. The city has many islands and bridges that connect the whole city. Here you can really find peace near water.

Two cities in one day and there was no doubt that I liked the lesser known town of Port Grimaud the best. I don't need to go back to Saint-Tropez.

In general, the South of France is a lovely area with many amazing places.

It was my first visit to the South of France after a few visits to Paris In recent years. The south of France offered a completely different atmosphere to the France I had previously experienced. Especially Nice and the Gorges du Verdon made an impression on me. Both are places I would like to visit again and highly recommend to other travelers.

I have had a fairly neutral relationship with France in the past, but this experience was very positive. I have the feeling that I will probably have to come back to the South of France.

Good trip to the Gorges du Verdon and Nice, good trip to the South of France.

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About the author

Jesper Munk Hansen

Jesper lives in Kolding and has traveled a lot in his life. Especially in Southern Europe, where Italy and Spain are his favourites. He has visited Spain 10 times and Italy 23 times.

He speaks Spanish and is also learning Italian. He has also been Ambassador for Visit Italy for a little more than 2 years from 2020 to 2022.

In addition, he has lived in Malaysia for 3 months.

Jesper travels 4-6 times a year and in 2022 he has been on 6 trips.

2023 is not yet planned, but places such as Prague, Valencia, Barcelona, ​​San Marino and Sicily are being considered.

Follow Jesper's travel page on Instagram, where he talks about his many travels:



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